Category Archives: Digital/Social/Web

How to Give Away Lots of Digital Download Codes From a Record Label

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Earlier this week, I got a phone call from a radio programmer with an interesting question: A record label had given him 100 digital download codes for a band’s new single. He wanted to give these away through his radio station’s website. What’s the simplest way to do this and notify all of the winners, as the Promotions Director would rather not spend an entire afternoon cutting and pasting 100 emails?

I thought I’d share my answer, as many of you may find yourself in a similar situation at some point. The specific tools you will use will depend on how your station is set up, but the general principles are the same.

1. Build a contest entry form on your website using your usual software.
If you don’t already have software for this, you can use a solution like Formstack or the WordPress plugin Gravity Forms.

2. Export the contest entries as a .CSV file.
The CSV (Comma Separate Variable) file format is simply an easy way to move data from one program to another. In this case, we want to move the data out of your form-building or database software and use it in a spreadsheet.

3. Open this CSV file as a spreadsheet.
Which program you will use to open this spreadsheet will depend on what software your station uses as an email client. For example, if you use Microsoft Outlook for email, you’ll probably want to open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel. If you you use Google’s Gmail, you probably want to open it as a Google Sheet. Note that we’re talking about the software that you use to send individual business emails, not the Email Service Provider (ESP) that you use to send mass emails to listeners (Constant Contact, Mailchimp, AWeber, etc.).

4. Randomly delete all but 100 rows.
These are your winners. I’m not a lawyer, so check with your legal team to make sure that you do this in a way that conforms with your station’s contest rules.

5. Add a new column and paste in the digital download codes from the record label.
Or, if there’s a unique link for each winner, paste these into this column.

6. Set up a Mail Merge.
A mail merge is a process in which your email program sends out lots of emails by pulling in data from a spreadsheet and dropping it into a template. It’s a convenient way to send out a large batch of emails.

To start, you’ll need to set up an email template. For example, a template might look like this:

Dear [[FIRST NAME]],

Congratulations! You’ve won a free digital download for The Archies’ new song, “Sugar Sugar.” To download it, go to and enter this code:




Everyone at WKRP

Once you’ve written the template, you can set up your email program to fill in the placeholders with the data from the spreadsheet. The exact process for doing this depends on which email program you’re using, so you might need to search the web for specific instructions. Here are instructions for doing a mail merge with Outlook and Gmail.

Note that email programs may have a limit on how many mail merge emails you can send out. This is to prevent you from using mail merge to circumvent spamming laws. You may need to send out your mail merge in a couple of batches. I don’t recommend using it for a contest with several hundred or thousands of listeners, but it will work well for dozens.

Mail Merge is a great technique that can save your promotions staff a lot of time. You can use it in many other situations as well. For example, if your station is producing a concert and you need to send information to lots of band managers, or if you want to send info to a lot of clients. I hope this technique saves you some time.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

7 Mistakes Radio Stations Make With Their Mobile Apps

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Over the past decade, the smartphone has absorbed or integrated with just about every household device you can imagine, from the remote control to the thermostat to the alarm clock. So it’s only natural that radio listeners now expect their phones to take on the role once played by the radio, too. To thrive, radio stations need to ensure that they have a presence on their listeners’ phones.

A mobile-responsive website alone won’t cut it. According to eMarketer, 86% of the time that people spend on their phones is spent in apps, while only 14% is spent on a mobile web browser. So if you want to capture the attention of your listeners, you’ll need a mobile app.

Our sister company, jācapps, has built over 1,000 mobile apps for radio stations. In that time, they’ve learned a thing or two. They’ve also seen some common mistakes made by radio stations when it comes to their mobile apps. Here they are:

1. They Don’t Know Where the Mobile App Fits Into Their Overall Digital Strategy
When it comes to digital strategy, always start by setting goals: What do you want your listeners to do? Once you have clearly stated goals, then you can start to think about how your different digital tools — including your mobile app — help your station achieve those goals. For example, if one of your station’s goals is to capture data about listeners, is your mobile app set up to do that? If one of the goals is to drive online listening, does that app put that functionality front and center? You don’t need an app just to have an app; you need an app to achieve specific station goals. Know what those goals are.

2. They Include Too Much Stuff
When it comes to deciding what goes into their mobile apps, radio stations have a tendency to cram everything in. This can result in an app that is difficult to navigate because it’s overloaded with things that listeners don’t really care about. Just because something is on your website, that doesn’t mean that it should be in your mobile app. Be judicious with what you include: live streaming, blog content, podcasts, and concert listings should rank high on the list. But that doesn’t mean that you also need to include the playlist from the Saturday night techno show. Less is more.

3. They Don’t Showcase Their Brand in The App
Your mobile app is an ideal place to place to strengthen the connection between your station and its listeners. Make sure that your app showcases your station’s brand properly. The station’s logo should appear in the header of every screen in the app and important content, such as “WKRP’s Phone Scams,” should be named so it aligns with the station’s on-air programming.

4. They Only Think About Smartphones
While smartphones are one of the most important places for radio stations to make apps available, they are far from the only place. As more cars roll off the assembly line with Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto in charge of the dashboard, stations need in-car apps to maintain their presence in vehicles. As smart TVs and home streaming devices like Apple TV and the Roku penetrate more homes, radio stations will want to be available there as well. And as smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, see increased sales, radio stations will want to make themselves available as “skills” on these devices.

5. They Don’t Perform Usability Tests on Their App
One of the most important tests we run on radio station websites is a usability test, in which we invite average people to think out loud as they use a website. This helps us figure out how websites get used in the real world and uncovers any tasks that people find challenging.

A usability test can also be run on a mobile app. Pay a handful of testers to come into the station. In one-on-one sessions, ask them to open the app and perform basic tasks: listen to the station, find the venue for an upcoming concert, set the alarm clock up, etc. Watch to see how easily the testers are able to perform these tasks. You’ll quickly discover any issues that need to be fixed.

6. They Don’t Promote the App
Many radio stations develop a mobile app, only to let it languish in the app stores. Once you’ve got a mobile app, develop a plan to tell your listeners about it. You have a number of tools at your disposal: live on-air mentions, sweepers and recorded promos, your website, your email database, social media, signage at on-site events, etc. You should even promote it on the side of the station van!

Occasionally, we hear radio broadcasters object, worrying that if fans listen to the station through a mobile app, the station might lose a PPM meter. While there is this risk, we think it misses the larger picture. These days, people expect to consume media when they want, where they want and on whatever device they want. It’s important for radio stations to make their content available on as many platforms as possible.

7. They Don’t Monitor the Analytics on a Regular Basis
You would never put a radio station on the air and then ignore the ratings. Yet many stations build an app but never look at the analytics to see how it’s performing. Set aside a regular time, such as your Weekly Web Meeting, for your staff to review your app analytics as a group. Pay attention to how many downloads the app gets, the reviews it is receiving in the app stores and any data points related to the goals of your digital strategy.

Webinar: Mobile App Strategy
If your radio station needs a mobile app, or if it needs a better app, our sister company, jācapps, is happy to help out. Next month, we’ll be teaming up with them for a webinar on mobile app strategy. Please join us!  Register here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

10 Places to Ask for Email Addresses on Your Radio Station’s Website

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

One of the most important questions you can ask as part of your radio station’s digital strategy is this: “When listeners come to our website, what do we want them to do?” We call these actions, that we want our website visitors to take, “goals.” Your website may have multiple goals, but one of them should definitely be to drive listeners to sign up for your email database.

The calls to action related to your website goals should be front and center on the website. Too often, I see radio station websites that bury their email signup forms among a lot of other clutter. When we conduct usability tests on radio station websites, we always ask our testers to try and sign up for the station’s email list. You’d be amazed how many of them have trouble doing so.

Set and Meet Expectations
Remember, when asking for people to give you their email address, always tell them what you’re going to send them (Blogposts? Concert listings? Contests?) and how often they can expect to receive emails from your station. Once you set those expectations, make sure you meet them.

To make it easy for listeners to sign up for your radio station’s email list, here are ten places on your website that you can place a box that asks listeners to register:

1. Pop-Up Windows
When used incorrectly, pop-up windows are incredibly annoying. Never let your station’s sales team use pop-up windows to advertise car dealerships or mattress stores.

However, pop-up windows can be extremely effective when asking visitors if they would like to sign up for your email list. Essentially, what you’re saying is, “You seem to like what you’re reading. Would you like us to deliver more of it to your inbox?”

This strategy can be extremely effective. I have seen websites increase their email registrations by 500% by deploying pop-up windows. In fact, these windows are the top source of email signups on our own website.

2. The Stream
Many listeners visit radio station websites specifically because they are interested in listening online. According to our 2016 Techsurvey, 71% of listeners are willing to register to stream the station, making this an ideal opportunity to collect email addresses.

3. The Sidebar
If your website has a static sidebar that appears on most of the site’s pages, use this prime real estate to collect email addresses. I like to see everything in the sidebar connect back to your website’s goals, so declutter the sidebar by removing unnecessary content, such as Facebook and Twitter widgets. (Note that everything in the sidebar on our website leads you to a form that captures email addresses.)

4. End of Posts
If a person gets all the way to the end of a blogpost or article on your site, that’s an indication that they liked it. Use this as an opportunity to ask them if they would like to receive more of your station’s content by email.

5. Contest Entry Forms
Of course, everybody who enters a contest should be added to your station’s email list. Make sure that your website’s contest entry forms are properly integrated with your email database.

6. Concerts Page
On radio station websites, the Concert Listing is usually one of the site’s most visited pages. Use this page as an opportunity to extend a specific invitation to listeners. Instead of vaguely asking them to join your station’s email list, ask them to register to receive emails with concert listings, announcements and discounts. Then set up an email campaign with concert information tailored to people who register on this page.

7. Morning Show Page
This is another page on your website that deserves an invitation to register for a specific email campaign. On this page, ask visitors if they would like to receive a daily or weekly recap of the morning show. Then set up the corresponding email campaign.

8. Freemium Content
Freemium Content” is content that is free but only accessible to people who register. For example, on our website, our guides and webinar recordings are “freemium.” If your station has online content that is compelling enough that people are willing to register to access it, this can be an effective way to drive email signups. For example, your radio station may want to make any artist interviews that are older than six months available online, but put them behind a form to capture email addresses.

9. The Comments Box
If you allow visitors to comment on your site’s posts, add a checkbox that enables them to quickly and easily register for your email list when they do.

10. The 404 Error Page
The 404 Error Page is the webpage that appears when a website can’t find the link that a visitor is looking for. It often includes a message like, “Oops! We can’t find the page that you’re looking for.”

Add an email registration box to this page on your site with a message like, “…but don’t leave empty-handed. Sign up for our email list and we’ll send you our best stuff every week!” The 404 page can drive a small but significant number of email registrations.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

You’re a Radio DJ. You’ve Lost Your Job. How to Take Control of Your Online Presence

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Stay in the radio business long enough, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself out of work. It’s a rite of passage.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that in the moments immediately following your dismissal, you’re prone to panic. I’ve been there more than once or twice: carrying a box full of office supplies and old backstage passes out to the car. You may not feel this way now, but one day you will wear this battle scar as a badge of honor.

You’ll go home and work the phones immediately in the hopes of shaping the story before it gets out. I’m always reminded of this scene from Jerry Maguire:

Once the shock wears off and you’ve called all the people you need to call, it’s time to come up with a gameplan. There’s a good chance your future employer will look you up online, so it’s time to take control of your digital presence. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Set up a website
You need a central place on the web where you can direct both fans and potential employers. Purchase a domain for your on-air name, preferably one that ends in “dot com.” If there are common misspellings of your name, purchase domains for those, too. Even if you are using a hosted service like Blogger or, purchase a domain name and redirect it to your site. You can do this at any domain registry site, like GoDaddy or

There are plenty of inexpensive website building programs out there. My recommendation is that you set up a self-hosted WordPress site. This isn’t hard to do, but if you’re not technically inclined, you can easily hire somebody to create one for you. One of WordPress’ big advantages is that once it’s set up, you can update it yourself with a backend that’s as intuitive as Microsoft Word. Plus, the platform is so popular that you can always find a WordPress developer for hire.

Your website doesn’t need to be fancy. A headshot, a brief bio, an aircheck and links to your social media profiles is enough. If you’ve got a blog, you get bonus points, but make sure you update it regularly and that you’ve posted recently. An out-of-date blog looks bad.

This photo was taken at the mall
This photo was taken at the mall

2. Get a professional headshot
Go to a photography studio and get some professional photos taken. You’re going to need them: for your website, for your social media profiles, for your YouTube aircheck.

Don’t cheap out on this. No, you can’t have your friend take a photo of you standing in front of a white wall. Shell out the $100 and get it done at one of those mall stores.

3. Update your LinkedIn profile
Many potential employers will take a look at your LinkedIn profile, so spend some quality time updating it. Make sure it’s complete, listing all of your past employers, along with a full list of your skills. You can upload files to your LinkedIn profile, so post your aircheck here to make it easy for people to listen to. Make sure you have a good number of connections, but don’t connect to people that you don’t really have a professional relationship with. LinkedIn shows you how complete your profile is — the more, the better.

4. Post your aircheck to Soundcloud and YouTube
No doubt, you’ve edited together a 3-minute aircheck demo before, but it may have been a while. If you don’t have access to an audio workstation anymore, you can download free or inexpensive software like Audacity or Garageband to get the job done.

Forget about burning your aircheck to CD; nobody has time for that anymore. Instead, create a Soundcloud account and upload your aircheck. Soundcloud is ideal for short pieces of audio because it is free, its audio player can easily be embedded on a website, and it integrates very nicely with social networks like Facebook. When somebody asks you for your aircheck, email them a link to your Soundcloud demo, don’t attach an Mp3 file; clicking is easier than downloading, especially if your email is received on a mobile device.

You may want to upload your aircheck to YouTube as well. Like Soundcloud files, YouTube videos are easy to embed on websites and share over social networks. The easiest way to make a YouTube video is to use a slideshow program like Powerpoint or Keynote. Create a single slide with your photo and name on it. Import your aircheck as audio. Then export the entire thing as a movie file and upload it to YouTube. Make sure you include a link to your website in the description of your video on YouTube.

5. Take control of your social media presence
Hopefully you have been actively using social media throughout your career, but if not, now is the time to start. At the very least, you should have a Facebook page (not just a personal profile), a LinkedIn profile, and a Twitter account. Use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage all of your social media profiles from one place. If you haven’t been posting regularly, start. Aim for at least once per day.

Now is a good time to start participating in various online communities. Join discussions in some LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+ groups. There are several that focus on the radio industry, including this Facebook group.

Bonus: Launch a podcast
Want to keep your skills honed? Start podcasting. It’s not likely to replace your income, but it can be a good way to stay involved. Plus, it’s a great skill to put on a resumé. Start with our podcasting guide or join the Podcast Movement Facebook group. Better yet, book a trip to the Podcast Movement conference this summer. It’s easy to teach yourself and the equipment is relatively inexpensive.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

10 Ways to Get Listeners to Sign Up for Your Radio Station’s Text Message List

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Every radio station should be building a text message list. Text message lists are inexpensive ways to stay engaged with your P1 listeners. It is far easier for listeners to opt in to a text message list than give you their email address when they are out and about with nothing but their mobile phones. This means that text message lists are perfect for concerts, sporting events, and other on-premise promotions.

Use a specialized service to set up your text message database. You will want to reserve a keyword, such as your call letters. (There is a small monthly fee for this.) When people text that word to your services dedicated number, they will automatically be signed up for the list. For example, if they text “WKRP” to the number 55555, they will have joined the list.

Once you have set up an account with a text message service and reserved your keyword, you need to get word out about your text message list. For example, you need to tell your listeners to “Text WKRP to 55555 to win cool prizes.”

Beware of the Text Message Trolls

A word of warning: Several radio broadcasting companies have been slapped with fines because they sent out mass text messages in a manner that did not conform with applicable laws. With text messaging in particular, there are “trolls” that subscribe to lists in the hope that a company will run afoul of the law so that they can seek payment. Always consult your legal team before initiating any text message strategy to ensure that your station does not run into any issues.

One way to sidestep problems may be to use your text message service to immediately encourage people to subscribe to your email newsletter. For example, when people text “WKRP’ to the number 55555, they will immediately receive a message that says “Reply with your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.” By doing this, you can take advantage of text messaging, but still use email as the primary communication method, thereby avoiding the trolls.

But seriously, check with your lawyers first.

Here are ten ways to get that message out to your listeners:

1. On-Air Contests

The era of “Caller #9” is over. Instead, require listeners to text in to enter a contest. Your promotions department can log into your text message service to pick a winner, or even set it up to automatically text one random entrant a winning text message.

The downside? You don’t get to air a caller telling you “which station hooks you up with all the cool swag!”

The upside? You capture the phone number of every single listener who enters the contest.

2. On-Site Contests

At on-site promotional appearances, don’t ask listeners to write their email address on a slip of paper with a golf pencil. Your promotions staff has better things to do than enter those email addresses into your database by hand. Instead, require entrants to text in to win, just as you would with an on-air contest.

If the local car dealership still likes to see that old prize wheel in their parking lot, no problem; just ask people to opt in to the text message list and show you the welcome message that is automatically sent back for a chance to spin.

3. Sweepers

Cue the station voice: “Want to join our email list? Text WKRP to 55555.” Rotate once per hour.

4. On-Stage Intros

When your DJ gets on stage to introduce the headliner at the next concert, make sure they tell people to pull out their phones and text in.

5. T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, and Keychains

The great thing about the phrase “Text WKRP to 55555” is that it’s short enough to fit on every piece of promotional merchandise you give away.

6. The Station Vehicle

When you get that vehicle wrapped, include the text message instructions on all four sides of the van.

7. Banners and Signage

Yup. Here, too.

8. Wristbands

Wristbands are cheap. Print up several thousand with text message instructions on them and give them to your local concert venue to use when your artists come to town.

9. Artist Interviews

Got an interview with a big artist? Allow people to text in with a question that they want asked (“Text ‘WKRP and your question to 55555’ and maybe we’ll ask them on the air.”). Everybody who submits a question will be signed up for the list, and you’ll get a list of great ideas. You can even give prizes out to listeners if you use their questions.

10. Advertising

Planning a big outdoor, print or TV campaign? Include your radio station’s text message instructions.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

7 Features Radio Broadcasters Should Look for in a Smartphone App

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies


According to eMarketer, people spend 86% of the time they spend on their smartphones using mobile apps, and only 14% of their time using a mobile web browser. If your radio station wants to reach its listeners through their phones, it’s not enough to have a mobile-responsive website; your station needs a mobile app as well.

What should your radio station look for when building a mobile app? Here are seven key features:

1. Streaming
The number one feature radio listeners look for in a smartphone app is the ability to stream the radio station. According to our 2016 Techsurvey, 84% of radio listeners own a smartphone. If they’ve downloaded your app, they can listen to your station wherever they are — at work, in the car, at the gym, at home, etc.
Seth-12. Registration/Data Collection
Once upon a time, advertisers were primarily interested in reaching the most consumers. Today, they are focused on reaching the right consumers. After all, a golf store doesn’t want to pay to reach a bunch of people who don’t play golf.

To connect your advertisers with the right people, your radio station will need to collect data about its listeners — above and beyond the data provided by Nielsen. Your radio station’s app can play a crucial role in that process. Make sure you are building an app that is capable of gathering data from listeners through registration forms, contest entries, social media integration, and more.

3. Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities
Digital revenue continues to be the best growth opportunity for radio broadcasters. According to a recent study by Borrell Associates and the Radio Advertising Bureau, digital revenue for radio stations is expected to grow by 22% in 2017. Make sure that your station’s app gives your sales team opportunities to generate revenue.

Seth-24. Push Notifications
A push notification is a message that pops up on a listeners mobile device, even when the app generating that notification isn’t currently being used. Push notifications are an effective way to alert your listeners to time-sensitive issues. For example, you may want to let listeners know when an on-air contest is happening, when tickets to a big concert go on sale, or when there’s an emergency in your community.

5. Social Sharing Buttons
As part of a Content Marketing strategy, social media is a very effective way to attract people to your radio station’s website. You want to make is easy for listeners to share your radio station’s online content, such as blogposts, on their social networks. When they do this, they bring their friends back to your website. If your mobile app is showcasing your station’s online content, make sure it also makes it easy for people to share that content.

6. Alarm Clock
In our 2016 Techsurvey, we saw the smartphone overtake the clock radio as the primary device used to wake people up for the first time. So if you want listeners to continue to wake up to your radio station, you’ll need an alarm clock feature in your app.
Seth-37. Podcasts
While podcast listening has seen steady growth over the years, it still hasn’t achieved mass adoption. In our 2016 Techsurvey, only 28% of radio listeners reported listening to a podcast in the last month. The reason for that is simple: Listening to a podcast requires several steps: You have to download a “podcatcher” app, find a podcast, subscribe to the podcast, and then download the latest episode.

Radio stations are very well-positioned to take advantage of the podcasting medium, in part because they can make it easier for their fans to listen to podcasts by including them in their mobile app. This cuts the number of steps down, making a station’s podcasts accessible to more people.

Mobile Strategy Webinar
Our sister company, jācapps, has built over one thousand radio station apps. Next month, join us as we co-host a free webinar with the jācapps team: “Mobile 101: What Every Radio Station Should Know About Mobile App Strategy.”  Register here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

SEO 101: Search Engine Optimization and Keywords for Radio Broadcasters

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

As radio broadcasters, we want to use Content Marketing as a framework for our digital strategy: We create content on our website, then share that content in places that our listeners will find it. For example, we might write a blog post and share it on Facebook. Once people click on the link to that content and come back to the station’s website, we encourage them to take a specific action, such as enter a contest or sign up for our email club.

Resler1Radio broadcasters tend to focus on social media when trying to drive traffic to their website, but there’s another channel that should not be ignored: search engines. Just as your listeners probably visit Facebook on a regular basis, they also frequent sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Don’t ignore the power of Search Engine Optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization?
“Search Engine Optimization,” or “SEO,” is simply the art of getting your content to show up in the results of search engines like Google so that more people visit your site. If you’ve ever searched for something in Google, you know that the search engine produces both organic (unpaid) results and sponsored (paid) results. When we refer to SEO, we are talking about getting your station’s website to show up in the organic results.
Resler2You may also hear the term “Search Engine Marketing” (SEM). SEM is an umbrella term that includes SEO under it. SEM also includes other tactics, such as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising is what gets your station into the sponsored search engine results.

Why Does SEO Matter for Radio?
When I first started at Jacobs Media, I worked with a radio station that hosts a huge annual concert. The name of the concert is not the same as the name of the radio station. By looking at their Google Analytics reports, we could see that on the day that the radio station announced the lineup for their concert, their website traffic shot through the roof. We discovered that the increase in traffic was coming from Google.

What were these people typing into Google that was bringing them to the station’s site? Google Analytics told us that they were typing in the name of the concert. In other words, people heard the concert announcement on the radio, then went to Google to search for the concert so they could get more information.

Unfortunately, the radio station had not optimized their website for search engines, so the blurb in the Google result displayed the incorrect date for the concert and listed a band that wasn’t playing that year. Moreover, the link that Google was directing people to was not the correct page on the station’s website. Listeners may not have found the concert information they were looking for. This could have negatively impacted the number of people who came to the concert. Concert attendance, of course, can have a big impact on ticket and sponsorship sales.

This is just one example of how SEO can affect a radio station’s bottom line. Your radio station should take the same care with search engines that it does with social media; both can drive an enormous amount of traffic to your station’s website when used properly.

How Does SEO Work?
Search engines like Google want people to find what they’re looking for. If a Google user doesn’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll stop using the site and go to a different search engine instead. So Google has a vested interest in making sure that it puts the most relevant content at the top of its results.

Google uses an algorithm to do this. That algorithm is a closely guarded secret, much like the formula for Coca-Cola. Google also tweaks that algorithm from time to time. So rather than try to game Google’s algorithm, your best bet is simply to create compelling content that people will search for. The more high quality content you create, the more web traffic that search engines like Google will send your way.

If you create content that isn’t very good, Google won’t want to put it at the top of its search results. Google looks for signals that the content it puts atop its search results or both relevant and high quality.

There are some basic steps you can take to make it easier for Google to figure out that your content is both relevant and high quality. I’ll discuss those next week.

When people go to a search engine, they type a word or phrase into the search box. These are called the “keywords.” As your radio station maps out an SEO strategy, the first important question is, “What are people typing in when they’re looking for our content?” In other words, what are the keywords for your radio station’s website?

Different pages on your website may have different keywords. For example, while your call letters may be a keyword for the entire site, the word “Weezer” may only be a keyword for some pages. The listener who does a Google search for “WKRP morning show” is looking for something different than the listener who types in “WKRP Weezer acoustic performance.” Note that you’re not just using SEO to send people to your website’s homepage; sometimes you’re using it to send people to a specific page within the site. Every time you create a piece of content for your website, ask yourself, “What would people type into Google if they were looking for this?”

Take some time to brainstorm some of the keywords people might type in when looking for your radio station’s website. They may include words like:

  • The station’s call letters
  • The station’s format or music genres
  • The name of the morning show or on-air personalities
  • The names of syndicated programming or specialty shows
  • The names of benchmark features
  • The names of signature events, concerts, or contests
  • The names of core artists
  • Words like “concerts,” “interviews,” or “playlist”

Keyword Tools
There are a number of tools that you can use to help you figure out what your keywords are. Here are two from Google that you should know:

1. Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool: Google provides a tool to help you see how different keywords might drive traffic back to your site. Google provides this tool for free because they hope that you’ll eventually decide to spend money on sponsored search results, too. To use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, you will need to set up an Adwords account (but you don’t have to spend any money). Then, answer some questions about who you are targeting, and Google will return a list of suggestions.

Here, I’ve used the tool to find out what keywords English-speaking people in North America might type in when searching for a “radio broadcasting consultant.” As you can see, Google produced a list of related phrases, showing how many searches each term receives, how much competition there is for each term (how many people are bidding on that term in Adwords), and so on.Resler3
2. Google Trends: Google Trends is a free tool that allows you to see how many searches a specific phrase receives. You can even compare different keywords. Here, I’ve compared the number of Google searches for “Howard Stern” to the number of searches for “Ryan Seacrest.”
Resler4Long-Tail Keywords
When I first moved to the Detroit area, I had to find a new dentist. I didn’t type “dentist” into Google. That would not have produced the results that I was looking for. I didn’t even type in “Detroit dentist.” Instead, I typed in “Clawson dentist,” because Clawson is the small Detroit suburb that I live in. When a phrase uses specific words to narrow the search, that’s called “long-tail keywords.” The name comes the classic marketing book, The Long Tail by Chris Anderson.

When people are looking for your radio station, they probably aren’t going to just type in “radio station.” They’re more likely to type in something like “Seattle alternative radio station.” Because long-tail keywords are more specific, they will produce more relevant search results. “WKRP morning show” and “WKRP Weezer performance” are both long-tail keywords, and will direct people to different pages on your site. Keep this in mind as you try to determine the keywords for different pages on your website.

There are a number of other resources that can help you determine the best keywords for your website content, and you can even hire companies to help you with this. Search Engine Optimization has grown into a cottage industry over the years. If your station is just getting started, however, you can use these free tools and some educated guesses to figure out what the keywords are for different pages on your website.

Once you know the phrases that people are typing into search engines when they’re looking for your content, you can optimize that content to so these search engines are more likely to include it in their results. This will drive more traffic to your site.

I’ll give you some actionable steps for optimizing your content in next week’s column. In the meantime, if you’d like help with your radio station’s digital strategy, please contact me.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

Here’s What Your Radio Station Should Put in Its Website Sidebars

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been explaining how we rebuilt the Jacobs Media website last year to take advantage of the same Content Marketing strategy that we recommend to our clients. In less than a year, it has — among other things — enabled us to grow our email list by nearly 500%. This strategy can produce similar results for your radio station.

You may want to go back and read some of the past columns if you have not already:

How we set goals for our digital strategy.
Why we’re using a Content Management System for our website.
How we’re going to connect our website to all the other tools in our digital strategy.
How we decided what pages to put on our website.

The Sidebar: Desktop vs. Mobile
The sidebar is an extremely important component of the desktop version of your radio station’s website. It become less important on the mobile version of your site because if you’re using a mobile-responsive website, it will probably get pushed farther down the page to collapse the site into a single column for smartphones.

Here’s what the sidebar looks like on the desktop version of our site:
For comparison, here’s what the same page looks like on a smartphone. As you can see, the sidebar gets pushed to the bottom of the page, and a visitor has to scroll all the way to the bottom to see it (which they are less likely to do):
What Goes In The Sidebar

Before we started building the website, we first laid out our digital goals. For Jacobs Media, we decided the most important goals of our website were (1) to explain to potential clients what we do, and (2) to build our email list. Your radio station’s website may have several goals, including getting people to stream the station, sign up for the email list, enter a contest, etc.

So what is the goal of the sidebar? Things that directly accomplish one of our website’s goals.

The first item in the sidebar on our website is a link to the About Us page. The reason we have given this top spot in the sidebar to this link is because it accomplishes the first goal of our website; it explains to potential clients who we are and what we do.
Jacobs-3The second item in our sidebar asks people for their email address, which accomplishes our second digital goal. Sometimes, all you have to do to get people to give you their email address is ask. However, it is important to explain to them exactly what they will get in return. Notice how we clearly indicate what we will be sending them (Fred’s blog) and how often they can expect to receive emails from us. In fact, we give people a choice — they can receive the blog daily or weekly.
Every other item in the sidebar — Research Results, Guide & Tools, and Webinar Recordings — links to a piece of content that is only accessible if you fill out a form giving us your email address. (If you’re on a smartphone, we’ll only ask for your email address before allowing you to access the content; if you’re on a desktop, you will need to fill out a longer form.)
What to Leave Out of the Sidebar

Once people come to our website, we want them to do certain things, such as sign up for our email list. To maximize the number of people who do this, we remove all of the other options. Take note of what we do not include in our sidebar:

  1. Our Latest Blogposts: The point of the blog is to create content that attracts people to the site from somewhere else, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, or an email. Once people are on the site, we don’t want to send them to another blogpost. Instead, we want to send them to a page with a form so we can capture their contact info. This way, we can email them new blogposts on a regular basis, encouraging them to return to the site multiple times. If we send them to another blogpost and then they leave without giving us their email address, there’s an increased risk that they will be a one-time visitor. But if we capture their email address, we increase the chances of turning them into a repeat visitor.
  2. Our Latest Social Media Posts: Many sites put a “Latest Tweets” or “Latest Facebook Posts” widget in their sidebar. This wastes valuable real estate in the sidebar, and can drive down the number of goal conversions your website produces. You want to drive people from social media to your website, where they can accomplish one of your digital goals. Once they’re on your website, you don’t want to send them back to a social network without accomplishing one of your goals. Don’t put a social media widget in your sidebar.

What Should Your Radio Station Put in the Sidebar?
The short answer is this: Feature items that directly encourage visitors to accomplish one of your digital goals in the sidebar. Leave out anything that does not directly lead to the completion of one of your digital goals. As you can see, this is why it’s so important to know the goals of your station’s website.

Let’s assume that the goals of your website are to get visitors to:

  1. Stream the station.
  2. Join the email club.
  3. Enter a contest.

You may decide to skip your first goal in the sidebar if you’ve already put your “Stream Live” button in the top right corner of your website header. Instead, you’l start with the second goal: Use a box that asks people to sign up for your station’s email club. Be sure to tell them what you’ll be emailing them and how often they can expect to receive emails. In short, what’s in it for them?

Beneath that, you can include a generic link to the Contests page. Even better, include a link to each of the contests that are currently running; this decreases the number of clicks the visitor needs to make before giving you their email address.

What else? If these are your station’s only three digital goals, then nothing. Quit while you’re ahead. If you have additional digital goals, such as encouraging visitors to click on an advertisement, then add that to the sidebar. But don’t fill the sidebar with extra stuff just to fill space. You’ll increase your website’s goal conversion rate by providing less options, not more.

Your website’s sidebar is a powerful part of your radio station’s overall digital strategy. Be sure to think carefully about how you use it.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

Deciding What Pages to Put on Your Radio Station’s Website (and Where to Put Them)

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Last year, we redesigned the Jacobs Media website, enabling us to implement the same Content Marketing digital strategy we recommend to our clients. We believe strongly that whenever possible, we should do the same things we recommend to you. It’s why we’ve been actively podcasting, and it’s why we’re executing essentially the same Content Marketing program we espouse.

So far, the strategy has been successful for us — we’ve seen a nearly 500% growth in our email database, a dramatic increase in our website traffic, an increase in webinar attendance, and significantly more radio stations participating in this year’s Techsurvey than ever before. In short, we know that Content Marketing works because it’s working for us.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve detailed how we’ve implemented this strategy and how your radio station can do the same. You may want to go back and read some of the past columns if you have not already:

  1. How we set goals for our digital strategy.
  2. Why we’re using a Content Management System for our website.
  3. How we’re going to connect our website to all the other tools in our digital strategy.

Pages vs. Posts
Sites that are set up for Content Marketing have two basic types of webpages: Pages and Posts. Pages tend to be static. That is, they don’t change very often because the information they contain is timeless. You write the copy and leave it there, often for years. On our website, for example, the “About Us,” “Contact Us,” “Research,” and “Consulting” webpages are Pages. On your radio station’s website, the DJ bios, contest rules, on-air schedule, are things that you might put on Pages.

Posts, on the other hand, are timely pieces of content. On the Jacobs Media site, Fred’s blog is written using Posts. Your radio station’s blog or news section will also use Posts.

In WordPress, the distinction between Pages and Posts has some practical implications on how the webpages are formatted:

    • Posts display a byline with the author’s name and the date; Pages do not.
    • Posts allow the reader to leave comments; Pages do not.
    • Posts may display the author’s bio on them; Pages do not.

Mapping Out the Pages For Your Website
Before your developer starts to build your website, you will want to map out which pages you need and where you’re going to put them. In other words, we need to figure out what deserves to be its own page, what deserves to be a subsection of a page, and how these pages are going to appear in the website’s menu.

Start by brainstorming every piece of information that needs to be on the website. For Jacobs Media, we came up with this list:

  • About Us
  • Blog
  • Commercial Radio
  • Connected Car
  • Consulting
  • Contact Us
  • Custom Research Studies
  • Mobile Apps
  • Podcasting
  • Public Radio
  • Research
  • Techsurvey
  • Television
  • Webinars

For your radio station, you may come up with a list that looks more like this:

  • Advertise with Us
  • Blog
  • Concerts
  • Contests
  • Contest Rules
  • DJs
  • Morning Show
  • Photos
  • Playlist
  • Street Team Appearances

Next, figure out which of these items will get their own page and which will be a section of another page. For example, should Contest Rules be a section of the Contests page, or should it be its own page with a link on the “Contests” page? Should the morning show get its own page, or a section of the DJs page?

Thinking About the Main Menu
As you decide how to lay out the pages, you will also want to think about how they will be organized in the main menu. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to get the main menu right. Just about everybody who comes to your website will use it to find what they’re looking for, and you want to make that experience as easy as possible. Here are some tips when deciding what terminology to use in the main menu:

    1. The title of the page doesn’t have to be the term that you use in the menu. For example, the title at the top of your Contests page could be “Win Great Prizes from WKRP,” but the link to this page in the menu could simply be the word “Contests.”
    2. Avoid terms that overlap. I often see radio station websites that have a link in the main menu for “Events” and another one for “Concerts.” This confuses listeners. After all, isn’t a concert an event? By the same token, if you have a link for “DJs,” but a separate link for the “Sam and Diane Morning Show,” this is confusing. Aren’t Sam and Diane also DJs?
    3. Not every term in the menu has to link to a page. You can use a placeholder that has submenu items beneath it, but doesn’t actually link to anything itself. For example, “Events” could be one of main items in your menu. The word would not link to anything; instead, when the cursor hovers above it, two linked submenu items would appear: “Concerts” and “WKRP Crew Events.”
    4. Keep the submenus simple and intuitive. From time to time, I’ll come across a website with a main menu that crams a dozen submenu items underneath a heading. This is way too many for a visitor to scan. Try to limit a submenu to no more than five items. Moreover, put those items in an intuitive order, such as alphabetical.
    5. You can link to the same page in two different submenus. For the Jacobs Media site, we decided to put a list of upcoming webinars and a collection of past webinar recordings onto the same page. But which submenu do you put this page under? Upcoming webinars are “Events,” but webinar recordings seem to fit better under “Resources.” The solution? We put it in both submenus. Under “Events,” there is a link to “Webinars,” and under “Resources,” there’s a link to “Webinar Recordings.” Both of these links take you to the same page. Note that we also link to our “Research Results” in both the “Research” and “Resources” submenus.
    6. Avoid vague words. One of my pet peeves with radio station websites is finding the phrase “On Air” in the main menu. Everything a radio station does is on air — from the music to the morning show to the contest to the advertisements. Usually, what the radio station means is “DJs.”
    7. Beware of the “catch-all term.” Inevitably, you’ll fill out the menu and then be left with a bunch of other pages that don’t neatly fit into one of the other submenus, so you come up with a catch-all term. A popular term in radio station menus is “Connect.” In fact, we have a catch-all term in the menu on our website: “Resources.” Beneath it, we link to “Guides & Tools,” “Podcasts,” “Webinars,” “Research Results,” and “Videos.” Sure enough, when we run a usability test on our website, the term “Resources” performs worse than everything else in the menu. Sometimes catch-all terms can’t be avoided. But use them with caution.
    8. Avoid words that require knowledge of the station. Not everybody who comes to your station’s website will be familar with all of the on-air terminology that you use. Don’t assume that they know that the “Budweiser Lounge” is where you record bands playing intimate acoustic performances. A term like “Live Recordings” or “Acoustic Performances” may perform better.

Here’s the final menu structure we came up with for the Jacobs Media site:

  • Home
  • Consulting: Radio & Television, Digital & Mobile, Sales, Connected Car
  • Research: Custom Studies, Techsurveys, Research Results
  • Events: DASH Conference, Speaking Appearances, Webinars
  • Blog
  • Resources: Guides & Tools, Podcasts, Research Results, Videos, Webinar Recordings
  • About
  • Contact

Here’s one way a radio station might set up their main menu:

  • Home
  • DJs: Mornings: Sam & Diane, Middays: Carla, Afternoons: Norm, Nights: Woody
  • Music: Playlist, Local Music
  • Events: Concerts, WKRP Crew Events
  • Contests
  • Blog
  • Advertise
  • Contact

Of course, we’re going to test the website’s menu structure in a website usability test to see how well it performs, and I’ll walk you through how to do that in an upcoming post.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.

How the Tools in Your Radio Station’s Digital Strategy Fit Together

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been writing about how we rebuilt the Jacobs Media website to implement a Content Marketing strategy, and how your radio station can do the same. If you haven’t done so already, you may want to go back and re-read the previous articles. To recap, here’s what I’ve covered already:

  1. We decided on the goals for our website: Explaining what Jacobs Media does, capturing email addresses of potential clients and increasing our website traffic.
  2. We decided to build our website in WordPress, a popular Content Management System.

The next step is to figure out which other tools besides our website we will incorporate into our overall digital strategy and how they work together. Here are those tools:

1. The Website
Our site is a WordPress website with static pages that act as a brochure, explaining what we do, and posts — primarily consisting of content that Fred publishes to the blog on a daily basis.

The purpose of the posts is to attract people to the website. These posts get shared on social media, indexed by search engines and emailed out to our database. Hopefully, people will be intrigued by the post excerpt they see in these places, click the link and come back to our site. Your radio station will use blogposts (you may prefer to call them “news articles”) to do the same thing — drive traffic to your site.

The pages, on the other hand, accomplish our first goal: They explain to potential clients what we do. For example, we have pages about our Consulting, our Research and our Speaking Appearances. Of course, your radio station won’t need to explain what you do in the same amount of depth that we do because people are already familiar with what a radio station does. However, you will have a number of static pages on your website, such as your DJ Bios, your Concerts page and your Advertise With Us page.

2. The Email Service Provider
The second goal of our website is to capture email addresses — and if possible, more information — from our visitors. We want this information so that we can continue to engage with them through email. If they visit the site and don’t give us their email address, they may never return; but if they give us their email address, we can send them emails that encourage them to return to the site to see our latest content. So we want to capture people’s email addresses and add them to our our mailing list using an email service provider (ESP).

It’s important to note that an ESP is different than a personal email client like Outlook or GMail. ESPs are specifically designed to handle mass mailings to large groups of people. It’s important to use an ESP to handle your mass mailings too, because they will keep you compliant with laws like the CAN-SPAM Act. There are small business ESPs, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact, as well as enterprise solutions. A large broadcasting company might use an enterprise ESP, while a stand-alone station might use a smaller ESP.

At Jacobs Media, we decided to use Mailchimp. Unlike radio stations, which may have tens of thousands of listeners in their email databases, we only have a few thousand industry professionals, so a small business solution makes more sense for us. That may not be the case for your station.

3. Database Software
Many companies outside of the radio broadcasting industry use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to manage their database of potential clients. Think of a CRM as a high-tech Rolodex. Years ago, salespeople kept the contact information on cards in their Rolodex, and every day they would turn the Rolodex a bit and new cards would come to the top. You’d call those potential leads, make notes of their responses, and then move on to the next day’s leads. By turning over the Rolodex, you ensured that you kept in periodic contact with all of the potential leads.

When it comes to enterprise CRM software, Salesforce is the 800-pound gorilla. However, there are a number of small business CRMs for companies that don’t need all the bells and whistles, including Highrise, Zoho, and Batchbook.

Radio stations should definitely consider using CRM software to manage clients and leads on the sales side of the building. For managing listeners, however, Salesforce may not be the most appropriate choice. Instead, companies like Triton Digital have designed software specifically for managing radio listener databases, while some stations are also using software from vendors like Gigya, Janrain, or Appreciation Engine.

Ultimately, we decided that Jacobs Media did not need dedicated software to manage the Jacobs Media contacts; because we don’t have to manage hundreds or thousands of contacts, our ESP, Mailchimp, works well enough.

4. Webinar Hosting / Contesting
Webinars are an important part of our strategy for reaching out to potential clients. Since relaunching our website, we have hosted a free webinar about once a month. This has proved to be one of most effective ways for us to grow our email list.

To host these webinars, we need special software. GoToWebinar and Cisco’s WebEx are the two big players in the webinar space, although a number of other options that piggyback on Google Hangout technology have popped up in recent years.

I have talked about how webinars could be a powerful lead-generation tool for radio sales departments, but it’s not something you’ll use on the programming side. Instead, you’ll use contests. Where we give away information to build our email list, your station will give away Kings of Leon tickets.

The database software you use may offer giveaway capabilities. For example, Triton has the Amp suite of tools to manage contests. If your database software does not, you will want to look into software specifically for contesting.

5. Streaming
Jacobs Media does not run a radio station, so we do not use software to stream anything as part of our digital strategy. But your radio station will. Triton Digital, Wide Orbit, Securenet Systems, and Stream Guys are some of the big players in this space. When evaluating vendors, you’ll want to ask about measurement, advertising management, geofencing and a host of other options.

6. Podcast Hosting
We do, however, produce several podcasts for the radio broadcasting industry. We need a place to host the audio files for these podcasts. There are a number of options out there, including Libsyn, Blubrry, Spreaker, Audioboom, Omny Studio, Art19, Acast and more. Our podcasts are designed for the relatively small audience of radio professionals; it is not our goal to monetize the podcasts directly through ads, so we need pretty basic functionality, including metrics.

Your radio station, on the other hand, will want to invest some time evaluating the different options to see which best suits your podcasting needs. All of the above options offer something slightly different.

7. The Mobile App
These days, it’s not enough to have a mobile-responsive website. Every radio station ought to have a dedicated mobile app. This mobile app should not only allow people to stream the station, but include other important features like an alarm clock, contesting, podcasts and metrics. Our sister company, jācapps, builds mobile apps for radio stations.

8. Everything Else
There are also a number of other small tools that we use as part of our digital strategy, including Google Analytics for website metrics, social media management tools (Fred uses TweetDeck, I use Hootsuite) and a number of WordPress plugins (including the Yoast SEO plugin).

Before your radio station builds its website, it’s important to map out how it will interact with all of the other digital tools in your strategy. You want to understand how all of these tools work together to accomplish the digital goals that you established. Be sure to plan this out at the beginning, because changing vendors later can be a massive undertaking.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at or 1-800-968-7622.